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Orbitz Launches Refined Hotel Search

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Orbitz just announced the release of its revamped search engine, making the process of finding and comparing hotels that much simpler. What new features can you expect to see on the site?

Now when you search for hotels, you'll be able to compare property details on the results page; view an expandable interactive map (which not only plots the hotel, but shows its actual current rate); filter results by star/user ratings, price, and amenities offered; and my favorite: view the hotel via Google Street View (where available), so you know exactly what you're looking for when you show up. (Not to mention, take a look at the surrounding neighborhood.)

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29th Street: New York’s New Hotel Corridor?

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Continuing the precedent  set by the new Eventi of building hotels in unexpected Manhattan neighborhoods, the new Gansevoort Park Avenue will open on August 16 at the interesting but decidedly unhip corner of Park Avenue South at East 29th Street. In a sort of no-mans-land between Gramercy Park, Murray Hill, and Kips Bay (call it Grammurray Bay? Kipsmercy Hill?), the swanky new hotel may do for its neighborhood what its sister hotel, the Gansevoort, did for the now-ubertrendy Meatpacking District.

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Vacationist: Sicily and More Amalfi Coast!

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This week, the values offered by Vacationist.com transport you to Southern Italy. (What better destination to top off the lovely summer season?)

With 22 cliffside rooms overlooking the Bay of Salerno on the Amalfi Coast, book at the Relais Paradiso—for up to 35 percent less than other booking sites—and you'll also have access to gardens, a solarium, and an outdoor pool/patio with spectacular bay views.

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Opening: Eco-Friendly InterContinental Times Square

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Yesterday Times Square welcomed the InterContinental to the neighborhood. On the corner of 44th Street and 8th Avenue, this is the newest hotel to be built from the ground up in Manhattan in the past eight years. The eco-friendly hotel, which had a "vine-cutting" ceremony at the grand opening ceremony, is currently seeking silver LEED certification, and if granted, it will be the largest new-build hotel on the East Coast to attain this environmental badge of honor due to green initiatives such as low-flow toilets, local and recycled construction materials, and two green roofs on the seventh and second floors.

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Vacationist: B.C., San Francisco, and Tuscany

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Already took your summer vacation, but can't wait to get away again? Now's the time to book your next escape for a late-summer sojourn or an early fall weekend getaway. Go to Vacationist.com, and check out the newest batch of values offered by the some of the world's greatest luxury hotels and resorts with rates as low as $129 a night!

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How to See D.C. in Summer Without Killing Your Kids

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Budget-style family trips to Washington, D.C.—everyone sleeping in one hotel room with tiny bath towels doing double duty at a tiny hotel pool—can still be fun, don’t get me wrong. But just don’t try one in summer. 

Summers in D.C. are brutally hot and relentlessly crowded. The museums along the Mall, because they are free and air-conditioned, invite larger than usual huddled masses yearning to breathe free air-conditioning. The crowds dully shuffle past Lincoln's top hat and Apollo space capsules and Plains Indian weavings, and what seemed exciting and inspiring begins to seem stultifying and meaningless.  Your kids start to talk about the hotel pool.  Frequently, and in increasingly thin voices. Your feet hurt and there’s too much more to see before you head back to the featureless hotel room.  Budget no longer seems worth the savings. 

This thoughtful package from the Mandarin Oriental (parents note: sun-lit 50-foot indoor pool, guestroom views of the Jefferson Memorial or the Tidal Basin) makes some sense if you can splurge and would like to avoid all that huddling and loud yearning.

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Vacationist: Greece, Palm Beach, Amalfi Coast, Hot Springs

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July may be on its way out the door, but there’s still plenty of time to book a dream getaway before the summer is up! Just hop on over to Vacationist.com, sign up for a membership, and take advantage of the fantastic values offered for luxury hotels around the world!

The Elounda Mare Hotel in Greece, overlooking Crete's turquoise Mirabello Bay, offers spectacular views of the sea and distant mountains. (If you’d like to avoid the energetic beach scene, we suggest opting for one of the roomier Deluxe Bungalows situated farther from the sand—with their own private patios and saltwater pools, it’ll be your own private paradise.)

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Europe Without Hotels

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New York Times
|  In the middle of a cool, cloudless Parisian afternoon, light was pouring into my guest room from a turn-of-the-century courtyard in the 10th Arrondissement. I clambered up to the loft bed, suspended above dark oak floors, and stared at the textiles shop sign swinging in the courtyard through the large, almost floor-to-ceiling windows.

A bottle of Bordeaux was breathing; other amenities included a pantry stocked with cereal, milk and yogurt. I also had a phone number to call if I needed dinner recommendations or, perhaps, extra shower gel. But I was happy sitting at the window, nodding at my new neighbors as they wheeled their bikes onto the street and headed into the cafe-lined Marais.

Hotel guests pay handsomely for such perks, but I wasn’t in a hotel. Nor was I in some vacation rental. I was in the home of Julien Szeps, a 26-year-old chef whom I met through a new kind of short-term rental service called AirBnB.com. And the studio apartment was only 65 euros a night, about $80 at $1.23 to the euro. Not bad for an entire apartment with a full kitchen and bathroom, less than 10 minutes by foot from the Louvre. (Image credit: AirBnB.com)

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Vacationist: Bangkok, Dominican Republic, Zihuatanejo

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Poo poo all those grumpy naysayers who tell you that summer’s almost over and you’ll never find a deal on a hotel room.  The poor things don’t know about the great deals being offered on Vacationist.com.  Here’s a look at the current slate:

Got “one night in Bangkok?"  You will want to stretch your stay to a few more days when you see the Vacationist offer for Lebua at State Tower. The Lebua, 67 stories tall, offers spectacular views of the busy streets of Bangkok from the serene sanctuary of its spacious guestrooms.   Vacationist is offering nightly rates for up to 30% lower than other sites for suites or tower rooms, with daily breakfast.

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Bid for Good: Give Back by Traveling

201007-b-bodhi-logojpgThere’s no denying that over at T+L lately, we’ve been flushed with auction fever. First came Vacationist (a new private hotel sale site brought to you by T+L and online auction veteran Luxury Link), then last week it was Mystery Auctions. Who doesn’t love a good deal—especially if it’s for a great cause?

Which brings us to today’s auction announcement: The Bodhi Tree Foundation, a terrific first-of-its-kind nonprofit founded by heavy-hitters in the travel industry to fund worthwhile projects around the world (schools in Haiti, libraries in Mexico, tiger conservation in India, more), is auctioning off some amazing travel experiences.

Items range from city stays at NYC’s perennially chic 60 Thompson Hotel to bucolic getaways at the Four Seasons Resort Provence at Terre Blanche on the French Riviera. And the values are tremendous (as is the feeling you get from contributing to this visionary organization and important causes), but hurry—you have just another three days to bid!

Image courtesy of The Bodhi Tree Foundation

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